Self-interest is sole motive
Both Naidu and Jagan are the owners of their parties. They are not worried about winning their seats. They are also not afraid of a high command which...
Both Naidu and Jagan are the owners of their parties. They are not worried about winning their seats. They are also not afraid of a high command which yields to the pressure exerted by this region or that. They are not wary of being asked to step down in the middle of their term. For them, the fortunes of their parties are more important than the unity of the State, though unity comes a very close second in their priority
There is nothing surprising about the so-called leaks purportedly orchestrated by Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana. Damodar Raja Narasimha, Deputy Chief Minister and the third presenter of a roadmap at the historic Core Group meeting in Delhi on July 12, was not that clever at using the media that is ever willing to be used. Nothing is shocking in the leaks because the opinions held by all the three are known to all the stakeholders. That Kiran Kumar Reddy would root for keeping the State united is only expected although he often claims that he is a cent percent Hyderabadi, and so as much a Telanganite as K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), president of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). Though the young chief minister was born and brought up in the city since his father was an MLA for a number of terms besides being a minister, his roots are in Chittoor district. He has been representing the district in the Assembly for more than 20 years. He never contested from any of the constituencies in Hyderabad or Telangana. He has to fight the next election also from Piler in Chittoor district. It is only natural that he would like to impress the electorate back home through his efforts to preserve the geographical unity of the State. Moreover, he would like to continue to rule the large State till the end of the term and also the next term, if possible. He would go to Bangalore to meet Ghulam Nabi Azad who reportedly queered the pitch for Seemandhra politicians. He would go to any length, for that matter; to stop the Congress high command in its tracks as far as the Telangana tangle is concerned. He is a politician and would like to improve his profile by championing the cause of unity of Telugu-speaking people. Botcha is also ambitious. He was also equipped by his friends from the coastal region to make a powerful presentation. As chief of the State unit of a national party and as an MLA representing North Andhra region for a number of years, he is not expected to behave differently from the chief minister. But he is not as keen as the chief minister in being seen as a protector of the concept of a united State. He wanted to be seen as disagreeing with the chief minister on Naxalite issue which, according to him, is a non-issue. He is understood also to have argued that if the State is to be kept as it is something has to be done to redress the grievances of the people in Telangana. He cannot agree with Kiran since he is a contender for the position of chief minister. Like Kiran, he is playing for his future political positioning. Damodar Raja Narasimha must have pressed the Core Group for a decision in favour of a demerger. He hopes to become chief minister of Telangana, the other aspirants being D Srinivas and Jana Reddy with senior most minister from the State at the Centre, S Jaipal Reddy, being a dark horse. Damodar cannot dream of becoming a chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Even if he is nominated as the captain as part of a comprehensive package, he cannot be comfortable. Stalwarts like Chenna Reddy and PV Narasimha Rao and a popular leader like Anjaiah were not allowed to complete their term. Chenna Reddy failed twice. PV was tentative as chief minister. He survived as prime minister for a full term because he was also the head of party high command. Anjaiah's tenure did not last a year. Jalagam Vengal Rao, though a politician from Khammam district, was able to complete full term thanks to the Emergency and also his intimacy with the Congress leaders from Coastal Andhra. Chiranjeevi, a leader who has promise and a lot of future in the event of bifurcation, as a leading light of the Congress party in Coastal Andhra, is lucky touring the world as a union minister in charge of tourism. He need not express his views publicly. He can speak to Sonia Gandhi and Digvijay Singh and go on another foreign jaunt. If Telangana is granted, Chiranjeevi is certain to be entrusted with the job of leading the Congress party in Seemandhra during the general elections. TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu cannot be as unequivocal and as forceful in his policy and argument as the State-level leaders of the Congress party. He cannot be as partisan as Kiran or Botcha or Damodar. He has to keep the interests of his party in all the regions of the State in mind. He would like to retain his relevance to the people of all regions. He knows, as do others like Kiran and Botcha, that the leaders of all parties from Telangana region are suffering from the two-fifth versus three-fifth syndrome. They would be happy to get out of the majority domination either in the Congress or the TDP. YS Jaganmohan Reddy of YSRCP also cannot be one-sided. He is interested in his party representing all the regions, just like Naidu. Both Naidu and Jagan are the owners of their parties. They are not worried about winning their seats. They are also not afraid of a high command which yields to the pressure exerted by this region or that. They are not wary of being asked to step down in the middle of their term. For them, the fortunes of their parties are primary and integrity of the State secondary. They would be extremely glad if they could keep the unity of the State and their party flag flying. They will not mind the State being bifurcated if that does not jeopardize interests of their respective parties. That is why neither wants to be understood by the people as working for the unity or the division. They want to remain strictly neutral. The negative side for them is that they cannot act, much less be pro-active; they can only react to the actions of the Congress party. They know that the Digvijays and Ghulam Nabis are plotting to make them irrelevant. The proposal to add two of Rayalaseema districts, Anantapur and Kurnool, to Telangana to make it Rayala Telangana was specifically manufactured to create trouble for YSRCP. Whatever may happen to Telangana, the YSRCP was confident of continuing its grip over Rayalaseema. If Seema is divided, the party would be badly affected with its stronghold getting bifurcated and tagged to two States. That was the reason why YSRCP leaders wrote to the Union government to organise another, a third, all- party meeting in Delhi where the Congress party could present its stand and a final call could be taken. For Kiran or Lagadapati, keeping the State united is more important than helping the Congress win for the third time in 2014 and making Rahul Gandhi Prime Minister although it is perhaps their second point in the order of priority. When Kiran reportedly promised the Core Group to get 24 Lok Sabha seats in the next general election if the State is spared a division, he was not very sure about the specific constituencies he planned to bag for the party. He was anxious to avert the danger of a decision in favour of demerger for the present. He would probably try his best as Chief Minister to win the promised seats and more. If he fails, he is aware of the price he has to pay. He is prepared for this eventuality in order to keep his constituency, which is essentially Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra, in that order, happy. He is even prepared to step down as chief minister to facilitate a package to avert a division. He would consider himself blessed if Sonia buys his argument and drops the idea of bifurcation. Kiran has a long way to go and this stance would stand him in good stead. Keeping quiet and remaining a mere spectator at this juncture would be suicidal. Lagadapati's mission from the beginning has been designed to be seen as a fighter on behalf of Seemandhra. His tactics are personal and he is a lone gladiator. He has promised 39 LS seats to the UPA. He did not mention the number of seats the Congress is going to get in the united State. He must have included, in his calculation, the seats to be won by the YSRCP which cannot support NDA and has to willy-nilly be with the UPA either as a partner or outside supporter. Digvijay has started his second innings, as the AICC general secretary in charge of party affairs in AP, in a flamboyant way suggesting that a decision has been taken at the highest level to resolve the contentious issue once for all. There is no sign of the members of the Core Group having second thoughts on hearing the chief minister talk about the Naxalite problem or hearing the alleged tape of Indira Gandhi's speech in Parliament explaining why she rejected the demand for bifurcation of AP more than 40 years ago. The Congress high command appears to have finalized its roadmap before asking the three leaders from AP to present the contours of their vision. With the Congress Working Committee slated to meet before the Monsoon session of the Parliament begins on August 5, a final policy of the Congress party on the vexatious issue will be decided. The Telangana issue will then be debated by the partners of the UPA before the Union government gets into the act. There is no point in blaming anyone for this pass. The Congress high command has to blame itself for not monitoring the implementation of various arrangements the Union government had made to bring about integration of the Telugu-speaking people. No leader from Delhi asked Jalagam Vengala Rao or his successor why the second world Telugu conference was not held the year after the first conference. No one inquired from Delhi whether the Congress chief ministers were striving for emotional integration of the people of all the regions. There was no review of the various measures meant to satisfy the people of all regions. When the chief ministers were acting as petty-minded politicians in terms of appointments or other vital decisions, no Prime Minister or AICC president questioned them. Even today many of the claims made by Telangana protagonists in matters of political offices or funds remain valid because of the casual attitude of the ruling party. The Central and the State governments did precious little to appear to be fair. No corrective steps have been taken even after the decision of December 9, 2009, boomeranged. Sonia Gandhi and her advisers were busy in her own way, allowing the drift to continue until things reached to a point of no return. History is in the making and all the players are expected to behave with a sense of history and a vision for the future. All the tricks, tactics and shenanigans that have been on display for so many years have to be stopped and statesmanlike attitude has to be exhibited by politicians of all hues if they wish to have a place in history.